Sports have always been defined by competition and the desire to win. But when did taunting and violence enter the definition? Being a huge basketball fan, I have witnessed a lot of taunting both between fans and between the athletes themselves. Furthermore, umpires and referees are not immune to verbal and physical attacks. Taunting has become part of the game, but it shouldn’t. A good example of this behavior happened a few weeks ago in a basketball game that I watched.
The game was between the Washington Wizards and the Indiana Pacers, a physical one in which Jalen Rose of the Pacers and Michael Jordan of the Wizards got into a shoving match that led to the ejection of Rose. This incident proves that emotions often fly high and tempers are regularly tested, but players must remain calm and not let anything get to them.
I’m not saying sportsmanship in today’s world is missing. In fact, I recently watched a game that was both competitive and had lots of class.
The NBA All-Star game showcased some of the best athletes in the world who dazzled the crowd with breathtaking moves. This was a game that showed sportsmanship between the players, but didn’t lose the competitive edge. All the players were rooting for one another to put on a show for the fans. This is one game I watch regularly because of the excitement it brings and the great sportsmanship the players show.
Along with sportsmanship shown by athletes, I’ve also seen sportsmanship expressed by fans in positive ways and also incidences where fans apparently forget the meaning of the word.
I have attended many NBA games where fans were on their best behavior. Fans are at their best when they are cheering for their teams without going over the edge by throwing objects on the court or disrespecting the opponent. I rarely hear of fans disrupting games with their activities during these events. But I’m not saying fans can’t get out of hand.
During the NFL season there was one game during which fans went crazy because of a bad call by the referees. This game between the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars ended in ugly fashion. With the game on the line, the head referee made a bad call giving the Jaguars the victory. The Cleveland fans started to throw bottles and other objects onto the turf.
This kind of behavior could have caused major injuries, but fortunately it did not. Fans must understand that sometimes the referees make mistakes too.
Additionally, in Major League Baseball, I have seen many incidents where umpires have been physically attacked.
During the baseball season, Carl Everett, now of the Texas Rangers, went over the edge by head butting an umpire after disagreeing with a call. Another incident happened a few years back when Roberto Alomar, now of the New York Mets, spit on an umpire after disputing a call. The sad thing is that these types of incidents happen too often in sports. Athletes need to understand that children look up to them and are always watching. They must be competitors, but at the same time, exemplify some sportsmanship.
I’ve watched almost every sport, and all have competitive athletes who play to win. That is what the fans want to see, but behind this should be respect for the opponents. I’m not going to say that sportsmanship has vanished from today’s world, but I will say that it’s a lost art in sports.